I am Short, Fat, and Old

And I am also a badass.

Photo by Malicki M Beser on Unsplash

I don’t know why I’m dangerous and always have been. I just am. I halfway dare anyone to attack me; so they don’t. I’m always ready for a fight against someone who wants to hurt me or mine, or who threatens a helpless person. I’m constantly aware of my surroundings and if not looking for trouble, at least expecting it.

I’m not as rowdy as I once was. I’d only fight now for my life or someone else’s, but baby, I’d fight. As a kid, I’d get called to the principal’s office at school for fighting, and sometimes in elementary school I’d fight mean boys, instead of other girls. In high school, I beat up a girl after she spit on me and called me a name. She was supposedly one of those nasty mean girls.

Her mother took her to the principal’s office to show him what I’d done to her poor baby. I got disciplined, but it was worth it. She never called me a vile name or spit on me again. The principal fought a smile when he handed out my discipline. I guess he didn’t like her sassy little ass, either.

I think some people are just born to be warriors. I must have been one in my last life or something like that, because I’ve never been afraid of another human. Funny thing is, I’m timid verbally when I meet new people socially, and I’m mostly introverted. But I won’t be scared by a person unless they are pointing a gun at me and have a good chance of hitting me. A real, honest-to-goodness, firearm.

Bears, I’m scared of. Those damn things will eat you. But people, nah.

I was a police officer half my working life because that was all I ever wanted to be and it was what I was supposed to be. I would have served my whole working life, except I happen to be female, ya’ll. And even now, men don’t like it that women can be cops. And even now, men don’t like my type. And even now, it isn’t easy for a woman to fulfill her need to serve and protect. Men can’t feel macho if a 120 pound female can do the same job. But that’s another story.

Even in my 50’s, I was still a good cop although I was on a college campus. I was never a police officer like Chauvin. Nope. I was one of the cops who would go in a pitch-black garage where the mother said her homicidal schizophrenic son was hiding with a knife, and bring him out with neither one of us being hurt. (Of course I didn’t go in there alone, without backup. I’m brave, not stupid.)

I was shot at and didn’t kill anyone.

I was shot at by a drunk during a domestic dispute, and I didn’t have to shoot the man. He surrendered. Nowadays they would kill him after he shot at them. But we had other ways back then and valued human life above all else. He wasn’t the boogie man, just a drunk fighting with his wife. He fired a shotgun in my direction, half-heartedly I think, because he told her he’d shoot the police if she called us. So he fired through the screen door as I was getting out of my car. I never needed to kill him.

I never needed to hurt anyone just to hurt them. But there are people like that and there are cops like that. But hurt me, or mine, or whoever I am protecting, and f***er, see what happens. I’ll get you, one way or another because I’m not only brave, but I’m pretty smart, unlike the bone-headed cowards out there today running around with their guns out more often than their…

I will gouge your eyes out if I don’t have a weapon handy. I will poke out your adam’s apple, I will squeeze your balls until I feel something break, even if you meanwhile beat me to the ground. I will not let go. I did not let go. I will hurt you. Even if you shoot at me, I know if it’s not close range, it’s unlikely you will hit me.

I will hit you with anything handy or stab you with anything I can reach. If you attack me. I will not run. I spent too much time as a cop, and cops, real cops, don’t run unless a bear is chasing them or a building is about to fall on them.

And somehow, bad people have always known that about me. Yes, I have a resting bitch face. And people have told me I am intimidating. I don’t know how. As I said, I am old (69), fat, and just 5'3". But bad people are like animals. They can smell fear and they can smell danger, and I must still smell like the later, I guess. Because no one has ever tried to victimize me except one drunk husband a lifetime ago and a boyfriend. Those relationships ended badly.

Guy under the streetlight.

I went out on my front porch the other night to have a smoke. I live on a street that is also a state highway, and some unsavory types live a little ways down the road and a lot of people walk by my house. No one ever bothers me. But the other night, at about 2 a.m., while I’m sitting on my porch enjoying my smoke and a break from writing, I see a guy under the street light out by the road, in the edge of my yard. He is just standing there, turned toward me. Then he starts walking a little unsteadily toward me.

I could have just gone inside and shut and locked the door. There was time. But instead, without thinking about it all, I said, “Keep coming and I will blow your f***ing head off.” He stopped. Then he started to walk toward me again. I felt that familiar alarm that says he’s up to no good. I stood up and said, “get out of my yard or I will kill you.” He stopped. Stood there a minute while I hurled some more anger-fueled obscenities and orders to get off my property. After a long moment he turned and walked down the road. I watched until I couldn’t see him anymore.

I don’t know. He might have wanted to ask directions. But it didn’t feel right. Here I was, an old gal on her front porch under the porch light, smoking a cigarette, wearing my housecoat. I didn’t have a gun on me. I lied. I bluffed. But I made him believe me, apparently.

Cops used to know how to handle things without thinking every incident needs to end up with guns out and somebody shot. And don’t tell me it’s more dangerous now. The crime rate has actually decreased, not increased.

I could have made it back into the house, even after he started coming my way, but I just couldn’t/wouldn’t run from him. I figured if my bluff didn’t work, I’d gouge his eyes out and stuff like that. I have old fashioned, metal, and heavy lawn chairs. I was already planning ways to hurt him if he kept walking toward me. I’d put my cigarette out on his face.

I never really set myself down and decided to be like this or tried to be like I am. I just am. I don’t fear bad people and I love protecting good people. Most people are good. But a few are rotten all the way to the core. And people like me don’t fear them. I can sense them. And, mostly, they can sense me. They know I’m not going to be a victim. They set off alarms in my head, but that doesn’t mean I must kill them.

Cops are born, not made.

Cops are born, not made. Either they can police or they can’t and shouldn’t be out there. But the secret is you can try for years to make a cop out of guy like Chauvin, and he’ll never be a good police officer. He’s a pansy ass. Sit on the guy…for 9 minutes. You don’t get to kill people who are bigger, blacker, and stronger just because you know they could whip your ass on their worst day. When you are a real police officer — a peace officer — you don’t kill innocent young men. Or anybody. Just because you are scared.

I believe in my heart there’s a reason I’m like I am. It’s because police officers are called to do what they do by a higher power. No warrior-type really decides to be a police officer or a soldier. They can, so they do. They have to. If they don’t, they end up in trouble because they are born with the ability to do the job, and nothing else will work for them. I know. I was always completely comfortable in uniform with a gun on my hip. If you have the distinct set of gifts that allow you to suit up and protect others, you ought to be doing it.

But if you don’t, you need to be an accountant, or a lawyer, or whatever. Just not a cop. Please, no. It’s one job where so many gifts are required. Bravery is one, but aptitude, respect, and diplomacy are as important as fitness and training.

Cowardly cops must be weeded out

But not all cops are the real, live, bad asses who will get between any person and danger. Some are like Derek Chauvin. Cowards who want people to think they are bad, but they are little chicken hens. Cops who shoot somebody because they are afraid the guy might have a gun or might beat the shit out of them are the most dangerous and cannot be left in the profession.

It’s up to the police. Weed out the cowardly racists and pansy asses, or the public is going to outlaw the police. They’ll be riding bicycles and carrying nightsticks if this continues. Americans aren’t going to let them continue their bully tactics and their shoot first, talk later, methods. We aren’t going to let cowards continue to kill our children.

It’s up to real bad asses (brave people with the right natural skills) to root out the cowards and chicken shits who will shoot someone before they will get their uniforms dirty. They won’t fight. They are scared.

Shooting someone is a last resort, not something you do the minute someone scares you. But that is what they are doing. Real cops don’t kill someone simply because they are afraid. They get cautious. But they don’t kill you because they’re afraid.

That’s what Chauvin did…George Floyd was trying to talk to the officers, but they were trying to stuff him into the car. They bit off more than they could chew. So they held him to the ground and Chauvin killed him. Because he had screwed up the arrest from the beginning, caused some wrestling, and realized he and his little buddies were no match for Floyd. So, he killed him instead. Had he just listened to the man at the beginning of the arrest, things would have gone far different. What would it have hurt to let him talk? To listen to him? Were those cops prepared to kill a man over $20? Sadly, Chauvin was. I think hate and shame incited him, too.

…high school bullies with badges.

It’s not only that our police today are improperly trained. It is that so many of them shouldn’t be out there to “protect and serve” in the first place. They are not public servants with the instincts to be warriors if necessary. They are high school bullies with badges. They are insecure men and women who need a badge to make them feel like somebody. They are ineffective on the job and I will guarantee that most of the people who work with them know they are not suited for the work. They are not able to police and other cops better start speaking up or the whole profession will suffer.

They think they are soldiers.

The psychological test that is usually given to police officers before hiring is the MMPI. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. I’ve been told that psychologists grading those things can tell if someone is a “typical police personality.” But can they tell if that cop will unnecessarily kill to avoid danger? Will that test tell them if someone is a coward? Will it tell them if the person has a serious mental illness? Not always. More testing is needed. I’ve seen some pretty crazy people pass it.

Interviews with psychiatrists or psychologists on a regular basis should be required for police officers. More training on Constitutional law and the rights of the people needs to be given.

I hate to even get started on the ill-advised military training. When I was a reporter, I’ve preached to cops until I’m blue in the face that they are not soldiers. They do not have a military function and the only military job they are even close to is that of military police. But, starting in the 70’s and gaining momentum in the 80s, we started outfitting cops like soldiers. Now they think they are soldiers and they’re occupying our towns and treating young black men as the enemy.

Their place is out on the street with the people they serve, not in tanks lording it over the population — or fancy SUVs, either, for that matter. They got confused as to their role and now they refer to the people they supposedly serve as “civilians.” I told one, “you are a civilian.” An argument that got him really angry followed. He was not a civilian, he said with so much conviction. He really believes that. And that single thing is at the root of a lot of our problems with the police. They think they are soldiers of occupation, not civilian police officers. We should start calling them peace officers again and forget the word police.

Things have changed so drastically in the world of police, and not for the better. In fact, it keeps getting worse. I got in trouble in the late 70s for holding my huge, heavy flashlight on my shoulder while I talked to violaters, even though it was just a habit so I could see their licenses and registrations. I was told it was a threatening gesture and to stop it. No more standing with flashlights on our shoulders because it intimidated the public we served, and they did not like it. Training now is the exact opposite. Intimidate the hell out of them. That is how they are trained.

Soldiers kill the enemy before they get killed. That is exactly how cops are being trained. We, the people, are the enemy. Think that’s scary? It’s completely true.

I really think it is going to have be torn down and rebuilt. I’m not even sure some cops can change back to peace officers.

Police reform needs to be now.

If a cop is so scared of being shot that he’s going to shoot every time a black man scares him, he should be culled out by the cops he works with. A coward is the most dangerous police officer. Chauvin is a coward. Every cop knows why he kept sitting on George Floyd. He was afraid to let the big guy get up, cause he knew he didn’t have the strength it would take to handle a big strong guy. So he killed him instead. He knew Floyd couldn’t breathe. He put his hand in his pocket and waited. What was he even waiting for…the tooth fairy to put Floyd in the car for him? There were four cops there. If they couldn’t put George Floyd in the police car they all needed to resign. I’ve loaded arrestees twice my size, alone, on a deserted stretch of highway. It was simple. I showed respect, I talked to them like they deserved respect, even when I told them they were under arrest.

I would have shot them if they fought me, of course. I could not have won with a gun involved. Mine. Someone bigger and stronger could take my gun from me. But I didn’t have to point my gun at people to make them understand that I would shoot them if I had to. They knew.

Because I was well-trained by old cops before me who knew how to get things done, show respect for people, avoid a fight, and how to get people to do as they are told when an authority tells them to. Good cops learn to project friendly authority. In 15 years, I don’t think I had to get physical with more than 20 people and a lot of those times, I was not the original arresting officer.

A really good cop can speak softly. The people they talk to know they have a big ole stick…several of them; a taser, training, and a gun. And they will use it — but only if the person forces him to.

We used our words more, not our guns. We were respectful. Our badges weren’t so heavy we had to walk crooked just to carry the damn thing. These badge-heavy little punks now need three or four backup officers just to make a traffic stop. Cops who work out in rural areas, as I once did, where the closest backup is 30 minutes away, must learn to interact with people without killing them. They are killing innocent people, for crying out loud. Police reform needs to be now.

The gun-happy ones are the most frightened by their job. Police departments now have the job of weeding them out and they’d better get to it.

Give them more tests. Subject them to interviews with psychiatrists and psychologists. Police have to police themselves. Now would be a good time to stop covering for those who shouldn’t be behind a badge carrying a gun.

All cops should be the kind of bad ass I talked about being. All it boils down to is confidence and bravery, Anyone who serves as a police officer needs the confidence to think that whatever happens, they can handle it without the need to kill innocent people out of fear. And they need the bravery to wait that split second to make sure that person is really going to try to kill them and not just carrying a bag of Skittles. And in my case, I needed to think the Highest Power in the universe had my back. I can’t imagine being an atheist cop. I’m sure there are good cops who are atheists, but I’ve never met one.

I wasn’t scared because I had a conviction as to who I really worked for.

The entire law enforcement community has to dedicate all its efforts to changing the shoot first mentality that has caused so much harm. They need to back off the military training and teach the police that they are civilian peace keepers.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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